Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Day 6. Travel to Chiang Mai

This is the day we flew to Chiang Mai. We thought about taking an overnight train, but it's a 12 hour ride, and to maximize our time, we decided to just fly. We flew on a local budget airlines called Air Asia, and two round trip tickets cost us about $158, which was pretty good. To make it easier I booked our flight for around noon. After another breakfast at the hotel restaurant, we headed to the airport, which is a 45 minute ride from central Bangkok.

The new Bangkok airport, Suvarnabhumi (which, somehow, is pronounced Swan-a-poom) is really nice. The main terminal is, by some measures, the largest in the world, and it is indeed extremely huge. There were apparently some problems when it first opened, but it seemed to be operating smoothly every time we were there.

I even remembered to have the doorman at the hotel tell the taxi driver that we were flying domestic, so he took us to the correct area. By the way, an interesting thing; almost every building we went to had a doorman, in Bangkok at least. I don't think I opened a door the whole time I was there. At the hotel there was a guy that was always there to open the door and wai us when we left or entered.

We made our flight with no problems, and, although it left about 45 minutes late, it was an uneventful hour long flight to Chiang Mai. Air Asia was fine. It was kind of like Southwest, in that there was no assigned seating. Also, there were no free drinks or food (not even water or soda); if you wanted anything you had to buy it. It was fine, though, and I would certainly fly them again.

While flying up, I stared out the window the whole time, which is what I generally do. It was very interesting in that for the first perhaps two thirds of the flight, everything was all rice patties. I had read that the central part of Thailand, meaning the area around Bangkok, is a huge rice producing area, and this certainly reinforced that. Thailand is the world's largest exporter of rice, and the rice there is fantastic, and there are many different varieties.

Once we were at the airport at Chiang Mai, which is, to say the least, somewhat smaller than that in Bangkok, we headed for the cab stand. I was a bit worried that they wouldn't know our hotel, but they woman knew right where it was and we quickly got there for 140 baht, or about $4.50.

The bed and breakfast we stayed at in Chiang Mai is named Baan Orapin, and it was simply our favorite place we have ever stayed on vacation. It is fantastic. We had a junior suite, which consisted of two large rooms, and a large bathroom, for $67 a night, including a cash discount. We loved this place. The grounds were beautiful and lush, and it was like a quiet sanctuary from the city.

The grounds in the kind of central yard.



That was our porch.

Our bedroom.

Me watching Thai TV in the living room.

I can't say enough nice things about this place. A great breakfast was included, and it was served in a wonderful open air room by a very nice guy named Pepsi. There was a selection of several different items, but I quickly settled on the Thai omelette with tomatoes and onions, served over rice with a side of bacon. Every breakfast also included coffee or tea, fruit juice, and fresh fruit. It was fantastic. The owner has a computer with internet you can use for free in the lobby, and is available to call a taxi or arrange tours and the like. The B&B is in a kind of compound, and has a gate, which you get a key to along with the key to your room. There was even a mini bar/fridge in the room, the items in which are actually offered at a fair price (35 baht, or $1, for a beer, 15 baht for a soda, free drinking water, etc.). I couldn't wait to give this place a great rating on tripadvisor.com.

We decided to chill for the rest of the day.

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